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Nail Biting Can be Classified as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Nov 06, 2012 09:56 AM EST

Nail biting has so far been considered a plain habit that relieves the stress in oneself.

But now, medical experts are preparing to classify nail biting as a full-fledged obsessive-compulsive disorder.

According to reports from NBC News, the American Psychiatric Association is getting ready to change the nail biting habit from "not otherwise classified" to "obsessive compulsive disorder" in their upcoming issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is described as an anxiety disorder, where people have repeated behaviors and thoughts that drives them to indulge in something repeatedly.

Habits like repeated hand washing, checking locks or switches, arranging objects in a specific manner and hair pulling are linked to OCD.

Although nail biting will be placed in the obsessive compulsive disorder category, not all those who bite their nails will be diagnosed with the disorder unless it causes distress or impairs the use of hands by the biters.

 "As with hair pulling and skin picking, nail biting isn't a disorder unless it is impairing, distressing, and meets a certain clinical level of severity," Carol Mathews, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Women's Health.

"That is not the vast majority of nail bitters," she said.

Biters hands can get infected due to repeated biting and might also cause a risk of getting illness due to the spread of germs from nails to lips and mouth.

Some of the ways suggested to quit nail-biting addiction is to use stress reduction techniques like therapies to overcome stress and the urge to bite nails.  Biters can also quit biting by grooming their nails. They can also use band-aids or tapes to wrap their nails and prevent biting.

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